Spoiler Policy: All spoilers up to and including the currently discussed episode will be unmarked. Spoilers for episodes beyond the current point will be enclosed in Future Vision blocks, which will include spoilers for the entire series.
Episode Description: Greg tells Steven and Connie the story of how he learned about Gem fusion.
The episode opens with Steven and Connie sitting at the car wash, helping Greg sort out his record collection. Steven finds a set of Orange Magic Orchestra records, which Greg tells him to put in the “transcendental space rock” pile — I suppose that’s the genre Greg was making when he was a rock star. The album he’s holding, Quadrinometry – The Secret of the Waves Lies in Creation, is the same music that he put on in Ocean Gem, causing Garnet to quickly vacate out the window.
Connie says that she’s never heard of any of this music, because all they have at home is classical and movie soundtracks, a nod to her strict upbringing. Greg plays a record by the Philosophy Majors, and Steven offers to dance with Connie. They accidentally fuse into Stevonnie for the first time since Alone Together.
Greg is stunned, and the embarrassment quickly causes Stevonnie to unfuse. After he gets a moment to process, however, Greg is impressed that they can fuse, because he didn’t think it was possible. Steven says that the Gems think it’s because he’s half-human.
Steven can fuse with Gems and humans because he is both, and he can also fuse with multiple Gems, but I always wondered if he could fuse with a Gem and a human at the same time. A Steven/Connie/Pearl fusion would be pretty awesome, right?
Connie begs for Greg to not tell her parents, because they don’t know she’s been doing “magic stuff” with Steven.
Connie hiding “magic stuff” from her parents will become a plot point partway through the season, in Nightmare Hospital.
Greg says he may be the only human on the planet who understands about fusion. Steven wants to hear the story behind it, and he and Connie settle in the back of the van. Greg puts on a VHS tape from the days when he was first starting to date Rose…
The video is a taped performance featuring Greg back in his Mr. Universe days, plus the Crystal Gems. Amethyst and Garnet are playing the same instruments they were in Steven and the Stevens — the joke of Garnet playing the keytar, a fusion of a keyboard and a guitar, is now a lot more obvious.
The chorus of Greg and Rose’s song is “What can I do for you? / What can I do that no one else can do?” which is highly relevant to an episode about Greg and Rose questioning their relationship. Greg’s insecurity over Pearl’s fusion with Rose causes him to wonder what he can actually bring to the relationship that she can’t already get with a Gem. The answer turns out to be a true human connection, which they find when they honestly communicate with each other.
The question of “what can I do for you?” is relevant to Rose, as well. Her lyrics in the song seem to indicate she sees Greg as nothing more than a novelty. As she sings the line, “I hadn’t planned on finding you quite this entertaining,” Greg’s smile falters. “I like the way / human beings play / I like playing along,” she sings, which makes Greg seem more like a pet than an equal.
I think, for most of her existence on Earth, Rose never really stopped to question “what can I do for you?” when it came to her relationships with humans. We know by this point that the Gems came to Earth as colonizers, and even though Rose rejected that and saved the Earth and humans, she still seems to retain some colonialist views, enjoying humans and their culture but not truly seeing them as equals. In this episode, Greg starts to force her to re-evaluate this, and she begins to think about what is best for their relationship, rather than just having her fun with Greg and tossing him away. Judging by Pearl’s behavior and other cues throughout the series, it is probably the first time she has ever done so.
Greg begins to do a guitar solo, and the camera pans to an absolutely miserable Pearl at the side of the stage. She gets an idea, and walks onto the stage to whisper in Rose’s ear. The two perform a fairly intimate dance and fuse into Rainbow Quartz.
This dance was apparently censored in some regions, even though a comparable dance between a man and a woman probably wouldn’t be.
Pearl and Rose fuse into Rainbow Quartz (no voice actress, as she never speaks), just in case you missed the fact that they’re pretty gay. She’s a harmonious-looking humanoid fusion, whose only anomaly is four eyes. You can see how Rose’s eyes look like they’re smiling at Greg, while Pearl’s eyes are casting shade.
Given the thousands of years they spent together and the fact that Rose has had prior relationships, Rose must know very well about Pearl’s jealousy for Greg. If she didn’t, it seems unlikely that they could remain fused so easily like this when they both have obviously different goals. In fact, it seems unlikely that Rose’s fusing with Pearl in front of Greg like this is entirely innocent — she likely wants to see his reaction. While Pearl’s petty jealousy in this episode is not a good look, Rose’s behavior, where she seems to be toying with both Greg and Pearl, also isn’t great.
In Giant Woman, the first appearance of fusion in the series, Pearl claimed that Gems only fuse when necessary. This has already been shown to be a fabrication, but here’s Pearl fusing for no other reason than to make Greg jealous. I’ve theorized before that Pearl used to fuse more freely when Rose was alive, and Rose’s death caused her to become much more guarded.
Rainbow Quartz splits apart and Pearl does a smug mic drop.
In Change Your Mind, we’ll see that Pearl and Steven form Rainbow Quartz 2.0, a very different fusion who is a Mary Poppins expy.
Greg is shocked at what he’s just seen, and Rose explains. She has to go (where?) and asks Greg if he’s doing anything later. “You know I’m not,” he says.
Amethyst pops up behind him and says, “Hey, I hit the drums, so pay up.” Greg gives her a bag of popcorn, which she tears into with her teeth like an animal, showing Amethyst’s love of human food goes back a ways.
Pearl sticks around after Rose warps out, because she has something to say to Greg: “You’re just a phase, you know that, right?” And while Pearl is being rude here, she actually has every reason at this point to think that that’s true. Humans have come and gone, but after thousands of years, Pearl is still with Rose. What’s more, at this point Rose’s attitude towards Greg really is that he is a fun novelty to play with. She has no indication that there’s something more between them — yet.
“You don’t know anything about Rose,” says Pearl. “I know she’s super into me!” Greg retorts. Again, while Pearl is trying to scare Greg off, she’s also correct. He knows very little about Rose at this point. We’ve also seen in previous episodes how Pearl can be particularly testy when it’s implied that Rose has secrets that she didn’t know about — as seen in Rose’s Scabbard.
Pearl says that the relationship with Greg can’t be anything more than a novelty because they can’t fuse, the “ultimate connection between Gems.” It’s interesting that she chooses this as the reason why Greg and Rose can’t last, and not their differing lifespans, cultures, and needs, or anything like that, perhaps because it’s very cut-and-dry, and something she’s absolutely certain Greg can’t have over her.
Greg asks if any human has ever tried, and when Pearl says she doesn’t know, he declares that he’s going to try. He does his own mic drop, before regretting it because microphones are expensive. Pearl scoffs and walks off.
Later, Greg is watching the video of Rose and Pearl’s fusion dance, and unsuccessfully trying to replicate Pearl’s moves. Garnet and Amethyst stop by, and Amethyst is fascinated by the TV, apparently something she has never seen before. Of course, later on chronologically, she will become obsessed with watching TV with Greg.
Greg asks Garnet for advice about fusing — a good choice, even though he probably doesn’t realize why yet. “First, you need a gem at the core of your being. Then, you need a body that can turn into light. Then, you need a partner you can trust with that light.” I think this is our first confirmation that Gem bodies are made of light, incidentally. We’ve also seen a couple of fusions that defy what Garnet says here — Connie can fuse with Steven despite not having a gem nor a body made of light, and Malachite is a fusion where neither partner trusts the other. But then, that’s the point — even Garnet is going to go back on these very literal statements.
Greg despairs that he’ll never be able to do it, although Amethyst still wants to see him try. Garnet throws a stick for Amethyst so she’ll give them some privacy. Younger Amethyst certainly likes to play-act as various animals, which hasn’t entirely gone away by Steven’s time, considering how much she loves shapeshifting into animals and portraying the Purple Puma.
Garnet tells Greg she thinks he can fuse, but not if he imitates Pearl — he needs to learn to do it his own way. This echoes her stance in Alone Together, where Garnet was adamant that Steven could fuse even as Pearl had doubts. “Get open, get honest, invent yourselves together! That’s fusion,” said Garnet — showing how she thinks of the relationship part of fusion as far more important than the literal fusing.
It’s interesting that Garnet encourages Greg here even though she must know how Pearl feels about Rose. Did that ever put a strain on Pearl and Garnet’s relationship? Was there a reason that Garnet encouraged Greg, apart from simply loving the idea of relationships? These would have been interesting questions to delve into, and I feel like we never got quite enough of Garnet’s relationships with the other Gems. One possible reason why she might be inclined to encourage Greg here is because she doesn’t like Pearl’s earlier use of fusion out of jealousy.
Later that night, Rose arrives at Greg’s van. He’s wearing a brown jacket that happens to be the same one he wore to look like a responsible parent in Fusion Cuisine. He puts on music and leads her to a light-up dance floor, where they dance for a bit before Greg stands on these speakers and kisses Rose.
Rose is dazzled and starry-eyed, but Greg is disappointed. He confesses that he wanted to fuse, and Rose laughs at him.
Greg is concerned that it’s a problem that he’s a human, and Rose is less than reassuring. “That’s not a problem. I love humans! You’re all so funny!” Greg’s heart visibly breaks.
Honestly, this is why Pearl isn’t off-base to assume that Greg was just a phase for Rose. This scene shows what a shallow view she has of their relationship at this time. If Greg hadn’t found a way past that, there’s little doubt that Rose would have moved on when she got bored of him, as she’s likely done in the past. Greg may have been the first human to meet Rose on her own terms.
It hasn’t been revealed just yet, but in Homeworld society all Gems who belong to a particular caste are very similar. Rose’s statement that humans are “all so funny” may indicate that she doesn’t really differentiate between humans all that much, even if there are some she clearly likes more than others.
Greg says he’s worried about the future, and Rose suggests he just ask Garnet. Greg says he’s starting to wonder if she respects him, and she laughs in his face.
Compared to the stories Pearl has told so far, you see a lot more of Rose’s flaws in Greg’s stories. She may be well-meaning but she still has no idea how to properly treat humans at this point.
Greg: Rose, please! Can you just talk to me for one second? Like a real person?
Rose: I’m… not a real person. I thought… isn’t this how it works?
Greg: Oh boy, this is so weird… you really are an alien…!
I’ve talked about how Rose treats Greg as a disposable novelty, but I haven’t really addressed how Rose’s former partners treated her. From her reaction here, I certainly get the impression that they treated her as a novelty as well — no one has made her feel like a “real person.”
Rose asks Greg why he’s laughing and why he’s crying as he wonders how their relationship is going to work. Finally, he settles on the idea that they should just talk.
“I barely know you.” “That’s a good thing.”
Later we’ll learn about Rose’s many mistakes and regrets, from the corruption blast that ended the Rebellion to bubbling Bismuth to leaving Spinel for thousands of years.
“We really rushed into this.” “Everything on Earth seems fast to me.”
Rose has only known Greg for a few months out of the time she’s been alive, which is likely pushing ten thousand years. To her, knowing Greg for a few months likely doesn’t make that difference over knowing him for ten years.
“Do you miss your home planet?” “No, never.”
We eventually learn that Rose, in her days as Pink Diamond, was largely miserable on Homeworld, which is what eventually led her to defect.
Greg asks Rose how she ended up with “Harpo, Groucho, and Chico,” referring to the other Crystal Gems, hiding behind a stone hand. This is the same stone hand that gets destroyed by the Centipeedle in Gem Glow. “Those are three long stories,” says Rose, which seems a tad dismissive.
Greg asks her if she’s loved another human, and she asks him if he has. They both answer yes.
In Mr. Greg, Pearl touches on this, saying that Rose had men who “came into [her] life now and again,” but she was never serious about them. Greg’s previous loves never really get touched on, although it’s possible he had a thing with Vidalia in the past.
Greg asks Rose if she’s ever been in love with a human, which seems like a distinction she probably doesn’t know how to make given her other ignorance of human relationships. She asks how she’d know, and Greg says it’s torture. Rose is confused that he thinks of this as torture.
This all ties back “Love Like You”: “I could do about anything / I could even learn how to love like you.” Rose has loved humans before, but this is the first time she’s learned how to love like a human does.
Rose and Greg realize they’re both confused and they have that one thing in common, and spin around happily.
Pearl doesn’t understand why they’re still dancing, since their fusion didn’t work. “Yes, it did. It worked,” Garnet insists. In “Stronger Than You,” Garnet describes her fusion as “a conversation”, which is why she encouraged Greg to be open and honest with Rose.
When did Garnet, with her future vision, first see the possibility of Steven? Probably not this far back, but was it before Rose made the decision? Did she encourage it? It would have been fascinating to learn more about this on the show.
“I think this one’s my favorite,” says Amethyst. Amethyst once had a close friendship with Greg, as we saw in Maximum Capacity. She even likely copied his hair for her regeneration.
“I think he’s her favorite too,” says Pearl, her heart crushed. This is another indication that none of Rose’s previous human partners really talked with her like this, and made such a deep connection. For the first time, Pearl really is worried. Her jealousy inadvertently brought Rose and Greg together — which will eventually lead to the loss of Rose entirely.
Back in the present, Greg explains that he was never able to fuse with Rose, but that that wasn’t as important as talking. He says that relationships between humans and Gems are pretty new territory, and that if Connie ever needs to talk to another human being, he’ll be there for her. They high-five: “Human beings!”
I would’ve really liked to see more wholesome Greg and Connie content on the show, personally!
“Human beings,” says Steven, clutching at his Gem. He’s left out of the bonding between Greg and Connie, because he isn’t fully a human being — but he isn’t fully a Gem, either, and the Gems often don’t understand what he’s going through, either. This fuels one of his central character conflicts through the rest of the series.
What’s more, he must be feeling fairly uncomfortable from the implications in Greg’s story. In his own relationship, Connie is the human, and he is the Gem — not to mention the fact that he literally has Rose’s Gem — and Rose didn’t exactly come off well in the story, not understanding humanity and inappropriately laughing at Greg. Steven is going to struggle with Rose’s flaws and whether or not he inherits her problems for the rest of the series, as well.
Overall, I think this is a very solid episode. It’s critical to understanding the dynamics between Greg, Rose, and Pearl, and it’s always fun to see the differences in the Gems in the days when Rose was alive. I like that we’re starting to see Rose as less of an ideal Gem to be put on a pedestal and more as a flawed figure.
Next Time on Steven Universe Rewind! Weird dreams and everyone’s favorite water Gem in Chille Tid.